Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi’ movie could be another huge win for Disney at the Chinese box office, and shows the MCU’s focus on diversity

Simu Liu, who will play Shang-Chi in an upcoming Marvel movie, at Saturday's Marvel Studio San Diego Comic-Con panel

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Simu Liu, who will play Shang-Chi in an upcoming Marvel movie, at Saturday’s Marvel Studio San Diego Comic-Con panel
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Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

  • Marvel movies dominate in China, where “Avengers: Endgame” grossed more in a week than Disney’s “Star Wars” movies did combined.
  • Marvel Studios announced “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” at San Diego Comic Con on Saturday, starring the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian superhero to headline their own movie.
  • “As part of Marvel’s strategy, ‘Shang-Chi’ is a perfect reflection of the studio’s diversity-embracing world view,” Dergarabedian said.
  • China is projected to surpass the US as the world’s biggest theatrical market by 2022, according to a November report by Ampere Analysis.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has no problem dominating the box office across the globe, and it’s Disney’s most valuable property in a rapidly growing theatrical market: China.

“As the second biggest movie market in the world, China represents a land of opportunity,” the Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Business Insider.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was one of the projects announced for the next two years at Marvel Studios’ San Diego Comic-Con panel on Saturday. Simu Liu, a Canadian actor born in China, will portray the title character, who is known in the comics as the “master of king-fu” and is the first Asian superhero to headline a Marvel movie.

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Marvel is already huge in China, where “Avengers: Endgame” grossed more in a week than all of Disney’s “Star Wars” movies since 2015’s “The Force Awakens” did combined. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” has earned $192 million there.

“Shang-Chi” could further reflect the franchise’s popularity in the region, which is projected to surpass the US as the world’s box-office leader by 2022, according to a November report by Ampere Analysis.

“As part of Marvel’s strategy, ‘Shang-Chi’ is a perfect reflection of the studio’s diversity-embracing world view,” Dergarabedian said. “Given the massive success of their films in this all-important movie market, this is a really smart move.”

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that diversity will be a priority in the MCU’s future. “Black Panther,” which featured a predominantly black cast, made $1.3 billion worldwide. “Captain Marvel,” the franchise’s first solo movie starring a female character, also grossed over $1 billion.

“You need new challenges and perspectives,” Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist and former Amazon Studios executive who contributes to the media-analysis website Redef, told Business Insider in April. “Their embrace of different storytelling and characters will help attract more talent. When you’re putting out 30 movies, you never want it to feel like it’s become a unit or a cog.”

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” comes to theaters February 12, 2021 in the US (a China release date hasn’t yet been announced).